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When Is a Package “Lost,” and How Can the Shipper Find It?


Millions of packages are handled every day by FedEx and UPS, and items can sometimes disappear. How long does it take before a loss is declared, and what can shippers do about it?

How does a package even get lost today? You’d be forgiven for thinking that with 21st century technology, scanning, logging, GPS, and tracking pages that a parcel would have to literally vanish into thin air to qualify as lost. Technology is (at least for the moment) still prone to package fragility and human fallibility, which create a few different definitions of “lost.”

Here’s what we mean.

Loss by misdelivery or destruction

Assuming the package label survives intact, shippers then must rely on delivery personnel to take the package to the right place. Mix-ups occur, leading items to end up at the wrong destination either by oversight or compromised packing labels. Of course, a carrier agent should always double-check before best-guessing an address, but that doesn’t always happen.

Packages arriving at the wrong address also rely on the recipient going to the trouble of notifying the carrier to come get it. If they don’t (or decide to keep the package for their own gain), this is the next definition of “lost.” Then there’s loss by destruction. A package being so damaged that it classifies as destroyed is thankfully rare.

Rarest of all is “none of the above,” when there is no evidence of a package ever having been posted. These are the times items truly seem to have vanished. because there’s no administrative recourse to recovery.

How long until packages are officially lost?

UPS states that customers can file a lost-package claim if delivery hasn’t taken place 24 hours after the expected date and time. Customers are advised to contact the shipper; when they do, the shipper will deal with UPS to try to resolve the matter. If a package is damaged, either the customer or preferably the shipper can start a claim.

FedEx, to its credit, offers plenty of options to file a claim and keep track of its progress, as well as some tips to minimize the risk of loss. Their FedEx Delivery Manager could also prove helpful for shippers. However, they don’t provide a time limit for lost packages to be reported. (60 days is the limit for damage but not loss). We don’t recommend waiting if you suspect or know that one is missing.

We do recommend that shippers become as proactive as possible in monitoring their shipments and holding FedEx or UPS accountable.

71lbs offers multiple tools to combat package loss

We automatically monitor lost/damaged package data for our customers, ensuring they get the refunds they’re entitled to if a package doesn’t reach its destination. We do the watching and the chasing of carriers while your business saves time and money by focusing on serving your customers.

Two more of our services – Premium Tracking and Shipping Insurance – can take the sting out of lost packages. Premium Tracking allows shippers and their customers to keep a step-by-step eye on package progress. Our shipping insurance is unconditional, doesn’t have to prove carrier negligence, and covers replacement and shipping costs. You could also save from 20% to 45% compared with buying insurance from the carrier.

Get in touch with us at the links below for more information on making the most of shipping. We don’t want you to lose out.

At 71lbs, we uncomplicate the shipping process for our customers, making it easier and faster for them to access refunds and reduce their expenses. Our automated platform gathers all your shipping information into one easy-to-use custom analytics dashboard. Drop by the contact page to get in touch.

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